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Imagine that you have arrived in a foreign land. You discover a building, but have no idea what the building was used for. This assignment asks you to act as a detective to uncover what may have happened. Your assignment is to propose an imaginative, but believable, hypothesis based upon observation. You will certainly need to visit the building more than once, at different times, and on different occasions. As a good detective, you know that buildings are not static but change over time. Some issues to consider:

  • How does the form of the building relate to program, ritual, and/or surroundings?
  • Who may have used the space, when, how, why?
  • How are the openings organized?
  • How are interior spaces organized, how do they relate to the exterior?
  • How is the building oriented? How does it orient?
  • What are the qualities and distribution of light?
  • What materials are used? How are they used?
  • How was the building built, why?


  • Two interpretive drawings, each 40 cm2
  • These need not be objective representations, but should demonstrate the nature of the building. Media should be appropriate.
  • Textual description (1500-2000 words)
  • Building Name, Date
  • Building Location
  • Architect (if any)
  • The text should (at minimum) answer the following questions:
  • Who inhabits or inhabited the building?
  • What is the political organization of the culture that conceived of the building?
  • How was the building constructed?
  • What language did/do the inhabitants speak?
  • What ritual occurred there?
  • What is the story of the building?

Assigned: 30 August 2010
Due: 23 September

Visit: Abruzzo, Outskirts of Rome, wandering
Readings: Kearney, Richard. “The Hermeneutical Imagination.” and “Narrative Imagination.” Poetics of Imagining. New York: Fordham UPress, 1998

Ricoeur, Paul. “Intro” and “Metaphor and the Central Problem of Hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics & the Human Sciences. Tr. John B. Thompson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Ricoeur, Paul. “Imagination in Discourse and Action.” From Text to Action. Tr. Kathleen Blamey & John B. Thompson, Evanston Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1991.